Chicken skin

Published April 23rd, 2015

I gave my daughter a hug the other day, and my hand brushed on the back of her arms.  And I felt the bumps.  The same bumps that I have on the backs on MY arms.  Some call it "chicken skin."  Some call it "sandpaper arms."  So what's the deal with these little white bumps?

Keratosis Pilaris (KP) is a very common condition that often starts in childhood.  Anyone can get it, and it tends to happen more frequently in females.  It can be associated with eczema, dry skin, and seasonal allergies (atopic dermatitis), or can be an isolated finding.  It's caused by a buildup of keratin in the hair follicles, and is commonly located on the backs of the arms, inner thighs, and cheeks.  Sometimes it can be found on the abdomen, back, buttocks, and legs, too.  The condition often runs in families.

As keratosis pilaris is a benign condition, no treatment is needed.  It usually gets better with age, especially after puberty, but it can persist into adulthood.  There is no magic cure for KP.  Emollients will often improve texture of the skin.  Glycolic acid, lactic acid, and salicylic acid lotions, urea creams, retinoid creams, peels, and microdermabrasion are all treatments that may improve the appearance and feel of the bumps.  One of my favorites is SkinMedica's AHA/BHA cream, available at pdmd.  Picking is not recommended, as it can lead to scarring. 

My daughter's got half my genetic makeup- the good, the bad, and the bumpy!


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